Competition in the fast casual restaurant market can be fierce, especially among burger chains. SmashBurger and Shake Shack are highly motivated to claim market share previously held by McDonald’s and Burger King. So not only must their offerings be top notch, name branding is critical for establishing a following.
This probably explains why In-N-Out Burger jealously defends its brand names. It established trademarks for its offerings such as “Double Double” and “Triple Triple” nearly fifty years ago and arguably owes its popularity to the legal protections around its brands.
So when SmashBurger introduced its “Triple Double” burger to celebrate the franchise’s 10th anniversary, In-N-Out moved quickly to defend its brand. It filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against SmashBurger claiming that the Triple Double is too similar and could be confused with In-N-Out’s signature burgers.
Currently it is unclear what In-N-Out seeks regarding a remedy. However, it is likely that it will seek an injunction preventing SmashBurger from calling its burger a “Triple Double” until it may be heard on the merits of its case. Additionally, In-N-Out will likely seek all monetary damages available under federal law, which can include profits SmashBurger enjoyed from using an inappropriate name.
Whether In-N-Out prevails or whether SmashBurger will be ordered to pay damages remains to be seen. However, the story exemplifies the need for experienced legal counsel is necessary when a trademark infringement lawsuit is filed against your company or you discover another company using what is yours.
The preceding is not legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship.